The other day I saw a freshly painted Santa sleigh and the arrival of autumn and spring flowering bulbs. Normally it would give me a little shudder because it means I have to think of winter, but not anymore because beneath that summer colour that I’m still enjoying in my garden are hundreds of dormant bulbs waiting to give me a vibrant carpet of colour from winter into spring.
This is the best time of year to buy bulbs because they are fresh and cheaper than buying them in pots later. I will buy some later to top up. This year I will pot them up first to plant out later when the others appear showing me where the gaps are and I’ll add compost to improve their growing conditions.
Snowdrops are my favourite to get the show started in winter looking delicately pretty among the hellebores and winter aconites. There are hundreds of varieties but the cheapest is Galanthus nivalis the common snowdrop with its little fragrant, dainty nodding fragrant white flower. Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’ is a pretty little double that soon forms strong showy clumps.
Crocuses are great for their cheerful bright colours and striking designs, I planted clumps of mixed colours under my Japanese maple last year. I love the autumn flowering varieties like Colchicum ‘The Giant’ with its large pink-lavender flowers and white centre or the spring varieties like the striking ‘Ladykiller’ with its white flowers and purple outer petals. My deep purple crocuses looked great last spring next to the pale pink flowers of the cyclamen coum that are gradually naturalising in my woodland/wildlife garden.
I can’t imagine a spring garden without daffodils; smaller varieties are great if you have limited space. This year I’m choosing white flowering ones like ‘Fragrant Rose’ with large fragrant flowers and peachy pink cup, also more white scented ‘Thalia’ the last one standing in my garden last spring. If you have plenty of room there are lots of taller daffodils to choose from too.